cover image The Rustle of Language

The Rustle of Language

Roland Barthes. Hill & Wang, $25 (373pp) ISBN 978-0-8090-8344-2

Barthes (19151980), a disciple of structuralist Claude Levi-Strauss and author of Empire of Signs, The Responsibility of Forms, etc., was one of the leading philosophical linguists of our time. This collection of essays, which deals with the scientific study of signs and symbols, of literary language in general and of the points where scientific and literary language diverge, also offers speculations on science, history, art and authors such as Balzac, Flaubert and Gide, and insists throughout on the writer's subjectivity (""literature follows the hand''). The book should prove an excitement for students of language. The general reader, however, is likely to have difficulty with such concepts as ``language-objects,'' ``speech-act'' and ``limit-noise,'' or understanding how ``The rustle of language forms . . . the utopia of music's meaning,'' and so may have trouble keeping up with the subtle and fiery rush of Barthes's thoughts. (March)